A Beer Lover’s Guide To US Breweries Open For Visits
Over the past few decades, the explosion of microbreweries throughout the US has exceeded 6,300 – a number that continues to climb as craft beer gets more and more popular.
And with each brewery boasting its own distinct style and often a strong representation of the city or town it’s situated in, they’re all more than worth a visit.
In short, from stouts and sours to IPAs and pilsners, America has much to offer a beer enthusiast. Here are eight of the best breweries to help navigate those hoppy high seas.
Allagash Brewing Company, Portland, Maine
The breezy small city of Portland, Maine thrives on a strong passion for craft beer. In fact, this Portland has one of the highest densities of craft breweries in the country, a scene that’s often bested by the mighty Allagash Brewing Company.
As the first US brewery to focus exclusively on Belgian-style beer, and an eventual love of spontaneous fermentation, there’s plenty on-site to keep beer connoisseurs content. Those who really want something to remember should go straight for the Curieux, which is aged for several weeks in bourbon barrels and takes on a tropical character bursting with coconut and vanilla.
Dogfish Head Brewery, Milton, Delaware
Often seen as one of the most innovative brewers in the US, Dogfish Head has fast become known for a strong rebellion against traditional ingredients and a singular love of ambitious brews.
The oceanside town of Rehoboth has proved the perfect place for this slightly off-beat and eccentric brewery, which has cut through its often extreme output and managed to become one of the most awarded and popular breweries in the country.
Grab the Raison d’Etre, a Belgian-styled brown ale brewed with beet sugar and raisins, and give yourself over to the immersive property, which houses plenty of lawn games, live music and an intriguing steampunk treehouse.
Sierra Nevada, Chico, California
Although you can also get a similar experience at Sierra Nevada‘s newer North Carolina location, a craft brewery trip across the States doesn’t get more quintessential than a stop at their Chico, Northern California branch.
Ever since this pioneering brewery bottled its first Pale Ale back in 1980, founder Ken Grossman has been at the forefront of discussions about craft beer the world over, from his then-risky faith in Cascade hops, to his strong commitment to developing sustainable, experimental ingredients.
New Belgium Brewing Company, Fort Collins, Colorado
Who knew an inspired, beer-fueled bike ride across Belgium almost 30 years ago would end up birthing one of the US’s most iconic breweries?
This 100 per cent employee-owned, fiercely progressive, and eccentric brewery in the historic town of Fort Collins has long been a presence in the upper echelon of craft breweries. Thanks to a constant and reliable core lineup coupled with highly sought-after small batch and seasonal releases, almost everything New Belgium does is watched closely, and met with feverish demand.
You won’t go wrong trying anything here, including the hugely successful Belgian-style Fat Tire ale, but there’s a special place carved into the hearts and minds of beer nerds for the brewery’s acclaimed sours. Pair this up with one of their playful, creative and free brewery tours to make the most of your visit to this hopped-up playground.
Wayfinder Beer, Portland, Oregon
No one should be surprised to see the famously hipster haunt of Portland, Oregon represented on any discerning brewery list. With such a huge density of top-quality breweries across the city, it makes sense to hop around a handful of the more than 50 breweries, although if you’ve only got time for one, don’t look past Wayfinder.
The relatively new brewhouse plays heavily on European-style lagers, drumming up nostalgia in their lively 110-seat taphall. Keep a close lookout for the dry hopped lagers Head Brewer Kevin Davey has been known for lately, or the popular Czech-style pilsners that’ll make you forget IPAs were even on the menu.
Russian River Brewing Company, Santa Rosa, California
When your releases result in endless queues and attract beer lovers from all over the country, you know you’re doing something right. Positioned in the heart of downtown Santa Rosa, Russian River Brewing Company makes a strong case for bypassing the famed wines of Sonoma County and going straight for the craft beer.
Strong, robust and fragrant IPAs dominant the comprehensive and varied menu available at both the Santa Rosa outpost and their brand new brewery nearby in Windsor.
Hill Farmstead Brewery, Greensboro Bend, Vermont
A mecca for beer enthusiasts scouting out the best of the best in the states, Hill Farmstead Brewery is the perfect example of how fine detail can make the difference between a good brew and an unforgettable one.
Brewer Shaun Hill may have never expected Hill Farmstead to become as popular as it is today, but something about those silky, soft and elegant beers has captured the hearts of beer lovers around the world.
Tree House Brewing Co, Charlton, Massachusetts
Soft, fruity IPAs are stretched and adapted to various tastes at one of the country’s most popular breweries, Tree House Brewing Co.
The small, but stellar brewery located in the small town of Monson, Massachusetts even roasts its own coffee, speaking to the ingredient-forward mindset that maintains an astronomically high standard and has pushed America’s craft beer movement into a brand new era.
(Lead image: Russian River Brewing Company / supplied)
Published 22 October, 2019